Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, former pharmacists and dozens of defendants in drug-dealing cases are all named as defendants in a lawsuit filed by the Scott County Board of Commissioners on Monday, September 11.
The action requests damages for all of the dollars Scott County has had to spend expanding its jail capacity, finding new facilities for its Health Department and other expenses caused by the illegal use of opioids in the county.
The county is targeting manufacturers of such opioids as Oxycontin, Percocet, oxycodone and hydrocodone. The suit claims manufacturers began a marketing scheme in the 1990s “…to persuade doctors and patients that opioids can and should be used for chronic pain…” Thus was created a larger group of patients “…much more likely to become addicted and suffer other adverse effects from long-term use of opioids.”
Such manufacturers, the lawsuit continued, “…downplayed the serious risk of addiction, promoted the concept of ‘pseudoaddiction,’ exaggerated the effectiveness of screening tools in preventing addiction, claimed that opioid dependence and withdrawal are easily managed, denied the risks of higher opioid dosages and exaggerated the effectiveness of… opioid formulations to prevent abuse and addiction.”
Cited in the over 200 pages of the lawsuit is the statement that Scott County “…is at the forefront of this (opioid) crisis… By 2012, 106 prescriptions for opioids were written for every 100 people in (Indiana).” A total of 33,000 in the United States are said to have died from overdoses in 2016. One in 15 people who take opioids illicitly will try heroin within ten years, the suit stated.
An estimated 2.6% of Americans have injected drugs, compared with 12% of Austin (residents), one source is quoted as stating.
Scott County still remains Indiana’s lowest-ranked county for health outcomes, it also pointed out.
The 2015 HIV/Hepatitis C outbreak in Austin is also mentioned as an alleged result of illicit opioid use. Prescription opioid use “…has not displaced heroin but rather triggered a resurgence in its use…” the lawsuit claimed.
The document stated that plaintiffs are seeking “…damages for the amounts paid in connection with the results of opioid abuse, including but not limited to county law enforcement, EMS, addiction treatment costs and the like.”
Additionally, Scott County is seeking a declaration that manufacturers have “…violated Indiana law, an order requiring manufacturer defendants to cease their unlawful promotion of opioids and correct their misrepresentations and an order requiring…..defendants to abate the public nuisance they have created and knew their actions would create.”
Punitive damages, trebled damages and attorneys’ fees and court costs are also requested as are monies to cover… “additional demands for public services…including costs for addiction treatment and the treatment of babies born addicted to opioids.” The lawsuit continued, requesting “…damages and equitable relief…on behalf of all Scott County citizens who or which have sustained damages or losses as a result of opioid abuse.”
Defendants in a lawsuit have 20 days to respond with their own filings or to request additional time to file answers to the allegations presented.
Lawsuits filed represent only one side of acclaim or claims.